How bowl refs get selected

Updated: December 16, 2011, 2:32 PM ET
By Ryan McGee

Welcome back to another edition of "Hey Ref!", the only place where you can fire off your questions to a man with three decades and 400-plus games of college football officiating experience. I'm talking about Dr. Jerry McGee, aka Pops (i.e., my father).

As always, if you have a question, feel free to fire it off to HeyRefESPN@yahoo.com.

When I was growing up, the month of December always meant hoping that Santa Claus came early to deliver Dad a trip to a bowl game. He had 20 in all, from the Liberty to the Rose to the BCS title game. And as this year's bowl season begins, that's what our first question deals with.

Dr. McGee,
I read where you've worked a ton of bowl games. How are officials selected for the postseason? -- Janine, Culver City, Calif.

Janine -- I always felt that when I got a bowl game it was based on merit, but when I didn't, it was all political! Seriously, though, bowl games are assigned by each conference. The conferences are informed which bowls they are working, and then it's up to each individual conference coordinator as to who goes where.

Theoretically -- and I do believe this is the case most of the time -- the top-rated guys at each position are chosen to work the games in order of importance. It's a reward for having a good season. A lot of things complicate it now. Officials can't work a game that includes a team from their conference and conference championship games are usually treated the same way, so some coordinators might be reluctant to give the conference title game and their best bowl assignment to the same guys. But in the end, the best guys usually find their way into the best games.

Dr. McGee,
I'm not going to put you on the spot about whether or not Tyrann Mathieu had crossed the goal line before tossing the ball to the ref on his punt-return TD in the SEC title game. In the end it didn't matter. My question is this: As fast as everything is moving on the field, how easy is it to lose track of where you are in relation to yardage markers? Is it something you have to stay mindful of all the time? -- Brad, Huntsville, Ala.